During one of our last conversations, Dwayne Johnson’s five-year-old daughter, Jasmine, comes into his office to ask, a little impatiently, when he will be available to eat some lemon cake with her. She has walked into the middle of a discussion about whether her father truly has presidential ambitions. Earlier this year, after a poll suggested that 46 percent of Americans have some enthusiasm for this recurrently floated idea, Johnson responded on Instagram (where he currently has 270 million followers, the second most of anyone on the planet): “I don’t think our Founding Fathers EVER envisioned a six-four, bald, tattooed, half-Black, half-Samoan, tequila drinking, pick up truck driving, fanny pack wearing guy joining their club—but if it ever happens it’d be my honor to serve you, the people.”
Johnson and I go back and forth on this strange subject for some time as he tries to honestly describe where he stands. He explains that he finds the idea humbling, concedes that he has talked to people in politics and done “a small amount of research and analysis to see where this comes from and to see what it could look like in the future,” and adds suggestively that “indicators are all very positive—in, for example, 2024, and in, for example, 2028.” He is not, he confirms, ruling the possibility out. But then he loops back to this: “You know, at the end of the day, I don’t know the first thing about politics. I don’t know the first thing about policy. I care deeply about our country. I care about every fucking American who bleeds red, and that’s all of them. And—there’s no delusion here—I may have some decent leadership qualities, but that doesn’t necessarily make me a great presidential candidate. That’s where I am today.”
This is when Jasmine appears to declare her more-lemon-cake-related agenda.